The Campaign Choirs Network is a loose affiliation of like-minded choirs across the UK sharing a belief in a better world for all and dedicated to taking action by singing about it!
Use the tabs above to find out more about:
- the origins and aims of the Network
- other member choirs
- events, demonstrations and rallies
- stirring and moving songs, both traditional and new
- useful links to other organisations and groups
This is the site for campaigning choirs to come to share events, music and ideas – please join us!
Two new songs from CCN members to inspire us all
Good things never come singly, it seems! Below are two songs from CCN members for your enjoyment in these difficult times. The first, Asalaam Aleikum by Penny Stone of Protest in Harmony, was written to welcome refugees from Syria to Scotland a few years ago and is a beautiful message of peace. In the video, Penny teaches the song, so choirs might be inspired to learn it. The second, Out of Pandemic, is a poem written by Wendy Lewis of Côr Cochion and set to music by her brother in California. In the face of all our current difficulties, it contains a hopeful theme for the future. As Wendy says: ‘I was trying to work out a positive message from the disaster, when it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the old answers don’t apply.’ Enjoy!
Campaign Choirs Online Singing Sessions (Oct 2020 – Jan 2021)
Great news – several CCN members have offered to host online singing sessions during the winter months! See the Upcoming Events for more details.
Campaign Choirs support asylum seekers
On 15th September, the Home Office restarted evictions for people who had been refused asylum. Those affected by this policy will inevitably suffer homelessness and destitution together with an increased risk from COVID-19. Penny Stone from Protest in Harmony has created the video Sisters Not Strangers (see below), with the help of singers from many choirs in the CCN, to highlight this injustice. You can also take direct action yourself by sending a protest letter to your MP via this link.
Sea Green Singers support Oxfordshire Peace Campaign
Oxfordshire Peace Campaign had to forgo their annual USAF Croughton march and rally to mark Keep Space for Peace Week. Instead they have put together a video (see below) comprising footage of previous events all set to the sublime singing of Oxford’s Sea Green Singers. If you want to know why Croughton is worthy of such attention from the peace community, then visit the Croughton-Watch website.
Côr Gobaith singing on International Peace Day
On Monday 21st September – International Peace Day – Côr Gobaith marked the occasion with some socially-distanced singing including a haunting and poignant rendition of No More War by Nickomo. You can hear this and view the accompanying video below.
Campaign Choirs Network Online Meeting (7th September 2020)
Representatives from about 12 CCN choirs met online on Monday 7th September to discuss how singing and campaigning might continue within the constraints imposed by COVID 19. Several choirs are now keen to host monthly meetings with different ideas for content. The minutes are now available on the CCN Meetings page. Many thanks to Penny Stone from Protest in Harmony for chairing, to Bronwyn Westacott from Nottingham Clarion Choir for hosting and to Lotte Reimer from Côr Gobaith for taking the minutes respectively.
Never Doubt video supporting climate action
Penny Stone from Protest in Harmony has harnessed the efforts of CCN choir members across the UK to produce this inspiring video in support of the current XR action using the words of Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world, indeed, it is the only thing that ever has‘. Please share this video via social media and email.
Latest research and guidance on singing and meeting in groups
A report on the BBC website detailing the latest research from Bristol University into COVID-19 and singing concludes that, in essence, singing is no more risky than talking although it cautions that the volume is the key factor in influencing the dispersal of aerosols.
Meanwhile, Making Music has helpfully summarised on its website the latest government guidance on gathering in groups and singing. The information is only accessible to members of Making Music but the essence is contained in the document below.
Côr Gobaith commemorate Hiroshima with outdoor performance
Côr Gobaith were able to sing outdoors for the first time for five months to mark the 75th anniversary of nuclear bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Lotte Reimer says: ‘A few hours before our planned Hiroshima and Nagasaki remembrance, Côr Gobaith were told that the Council did not allow singing in public, inside or outside. Humming saved the day, using one voice only singing or speaking the words. And adding poems. It felt very moving, this vulnerable time somehow making it more poignant. And it was wonderful to be in action on the street and seeing everybody again after nearly five months of Zoom only.’
Hiroshima Song marks 75 years since nuclear bombs dropped
Protest in Harmony have recorded a special song, Hiroshima Song, written by a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the USA’s dropping nuclear bombs on Japan. The song’s words translate as ‘It is important that we tell the children what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki so that it never happens again.’ Sign up to the pledge against nuclear weapons at: https://rise.icanw.org/
San Ghanny stand together with the Sumarin family
The Edinburgh-based San Ghanny choir has recorded We Stand With You in solidarity with the Sumarin family, fighting against eviction from their family home in Palestine. For more information about the campaign see
https://drove.com/.28uC and https://www.stopthejnf.org/.
Campaign Choirs Network Online Meeting (27th July 2020)
Representatives from about 15 CCN choirs met online on Monday 27th July to share their experiences of singing during the COVID-19 pandemic and to discuss how campaigning might continue within the constraints imposed by the virus. It seems that many choirs, whilst frustrated at the difficulty of live ensemble singing, have still managed to meet virtually to keep their spirits up and their vocal cords exercised! Lots of good ideas and thoughts for the future were shared between the choirs and a clear willingness to collaborate in the interests of all was apparent. The minutes are now available on the CCN Meetings page. Many thanks to Bronwyn Westacott and Linda Burdett from Nottingham Clarion Choir for chairing the meeting and for taking the minutes respectively.
MD Recruitment at Sheffield Socialist Choir
Please see below details about an MD post at Sheffield Socialist Choir, ideally as a job share with current MD, Janet Wood. Please share within your networks for the attention of anyone living in or near Sheffield.
New Black Lives Matter song – No Justice, No Peace
Wendy is suggesting that people record the chorus:
‘We say, No Justice no Peace. Racism holds us down so we can’t breathe. No justice, no peace’
and send the recording to firstname.lastname@example.org to add to a new version, perhaps with photos of people holding posters for BLM.
Our Voices Resound film now available
The Edinburgh choir Protest In Harmony are the focus of Our Voices Resound, a film made by Chilean film makers Palimpsesto Producciones in 2018 to illustrate activism and struggle through song. It provides a commentary on the relationship between music and politics linking personal stories, the collective singing experience and the wider social and political context. ‘This film reflects on the significance of singing radical songs, the community aspects of belonging to an inclusive group, the politics of enabling people’s voices, and the intervention of public spaces to perform and create awareness about current issues’.
This film is inspirational and moving and, if you have ever wondered why you sing, it will boost your confidence, sustain your resolve and fill your heart!
2020 Street Choirs Festival cancelled
The 2020 Street Choirs Festival in Pocklington has been cancelled owing to the number of signed-up choirs being insufficient to render the event viable. An extract from the email from Sam Dunkley, MD of Forgotten Voices who were organising the event, reads: ‘Unfortunately, with the responses we have received, we have had to make the difficult decision not to proceed with this years festival. We are substantially below the number of singers – on maximum and minimum numbers – to make the festival financially viable.
In the last week we have also explored alternative venues within the town which could fulfil the needs of the festival, and none of those are available.
I appreciate that this will be disappointing, it has not been an easy decision to make. We have worked for months to have an exciting, well organised festival, which is ready to go. With a lower capacity than recent festivals, we were confident that demand would be there and that the festival would break even. That has not been the case.’
Rebecca Denniff of Whitby Community Choir is willing to coordinate and support any choir willing to take on the festival this year. You can contact Rebecca at: email@example.com. The Manchester SCF 2019 team is also ready to support any such choir with an up-to-date list of choir contacts, hand-over notes and advice given to Pocklington, back-up of the SCF website as it was at the end of SCF 2019, and the offer of a meeting for a brain-dump/Q&A/planning session.
The Street Choirs Festival has been organised annually since its inception in 1984 and, unless any choir takes it on at this late stage, 2020 will be the first year that the event has not run. This will be a huge disappointment to the wider street choirs community and the CCN in particular for whom it was an opportunity to meet with like-minded people, to nurture supportive relationships, and to sing out about injustice and struggle and to celebrate change and success.
Join Raised Voices at next Climate Strike
On Friday February 14th, Raised Voices will be singing to support the UK Student Climate Network which is calling on everyone to join them in their next general climate strike. They will be singing at the London strike in Parliament Square. More details here.
Campaign Choirs Network hits the media
The new year brought some welcome publicity to the Campaign Choirs Network. A Guardian article about the growth in the number of choirs nationally failed to mention the importance of political choirs. Accordingly, your web administrator penned a response to point out this omission and to publicise the work of the CCN. The letter ran as follows:
The otherwise excellent article about the current popularity of singing in choirs (All together now, G2, 3 January) fails to mention a crucial choral tradition that is very much alive and well. There are many choirs around the UK whose repertoire comprises radical and protest songs, both old and new, drawing attention to prevailing political and social ills and celebrating past triumphs and neglected champions.
My own choir, Red Leicester, can frequently be heard in Leicester and beyond singing at events where power is questioned and held accountable. It is also a proud member of the Campaign Choirs Network, a UK-wide affiliation of like-minded choirs who join together at national protests and gatherings to provide a choral backdrop to the events themselves.
In these politically uncertain times, their vocal contribution is more valuable than ever.
There is also an article from the Campaign Choirs Writing Collective in the latest issue of Soundings entitled ”We Got The Power!’: the political potential of street choirs’.
Celebration of the Life of Cynthia Cockburn: Saturday 7th March 2020
Campaign Choirs out and about in November 2019
Campaign Choirs have been out and about recently. Firstly, Raised Voices sang in Parliament Square at the Climate Strike on 29th November, organised by the UK Student Climate Network, timed for just before the UK General Election. UKSCN said “With the focus on electing a new government, it’s crucial we make sure the climate crisis is at the top of the agenda. What better way to do it than a massive climate strike?!”
Further north, Red Leicester supported UCU members striking to defend their pay, working conditions and pensions. This is the second time in the last two years that UCU members have been out on strike showing the effects of the increased marketisation of higher education. Listen to Red Leicester members below singing Bandiera Rossa on the picket line outside the University of Leicester.
New song from Peggy Seeger
Peggy Seeger has written a new song in support of Extinction Rebellion and drawing attention to the climate crisis. She is asking that people share and sing it in appropriate places and situations. It is called Extinction Rebellion! Right Now! Right Here! and can be downloaded from her website below.
Extinction Rebellion Peace Roadblock October 2019
The Extinction Rebellion Peace Roadblock took place in London from 7th – 21st October. People from various Campaign Choirs, including Red and Green, supported the action on one or more days. Although much of the press coverage focussed on the number of arrests, there appears to be growing wider acceptance that such action is necessary to persuade politicians to take the climate crisis seriously.
Tory Party Conference September 2019
Members of the CCN were out in the pouring rain in Manchester on Sunday 29th September to make their voices heard about a range of issues: Brexit, austerity, the arms trade, the NHS – too many to catalogue, to be honest! It was the first day of the Tory Party Conference and the singers did not let the weather dampen their spirits nor silence their voices as can be seen from these photos (thanks to Diane McKinlay of Sheffield Socialists)!
Cynthia Cockburn (1934 – 2019)
Many CCN members will have heard the sad news that Cynthia Cockburn, a longstanding member of Raised Voices choir and the wider street choirs community, died on Thursday 12th September. In the words of her friend and Raised Voices colleague, Morag Carmichael:
‘Cynthia was instrumental in setting up Campaign Choirs, and contributed a huge amount to Raised Voices, including the words of at least 17 songs. We are missing her very much; a strong feminist and radical thinker, campaigner, writer, photographer, with a great interest in birds and nature, and a warm friend to so many people.’
This website features a page dedicated to Cynthia containing tributes from some of her many friends in the CCN. You can view this page here. If you would like to write such a tribute for this page, please send it to the website administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Climate Strike September 2019
Organised in the UK by the UK Student Climate Network and backed by similar events across the globe, this protest aimed to deliver a clear message for climate justice just three days before the UN emergency climate summit in New York. Many CCN choirs were involved in local protests and below are a couple of images from the Leicester event which was one of the biggest protests seen in the city in recent years.
Wake Up! – new climate change song from Penny Stone
Penny Stone has written a new song about climate change available for all to sing. It is called Wake Up! and incorporates words from Greta Thunberg and school student strike banners. You can find this on the Protest in Harmony website here.
Stop the Arms Fair September 2019
Raised Voices were present in force at the recent Stop the Arms Fair protest in London during the DSEI (Defence and Security Equipment International) exhibition at the ExCel Centre. See them in fine voice below.
Leon Rosselson August 2019
Longtime singer-songwriter Leon Rosselson has emailed the CCN with links to clips of new songs he has written. He says in his message: ‘As I’m not recording any more, I’m sending round to those who might be interested the few songs I’ve written since my final CD. Whatever they’re worth, it seems a pity to let them die unheard.’ It would be a pity so here they are!
Street Choirs Festival July 2019
Many Campaign Choirs participated in the Street Choirs Festival in Manchester from July 12th to 14th. This event, which has been running for many years, is where choirs from around the UK join together, share songs, listen to each other and, most importantly, sing out in the local streets. Thanks go to Manchester Community Choir who organised this year’s Festival so efficiently. A heart-warming and enjoyable time was had by all!
After the rousing Massed Sing, involving 1000 voices in Cathedral Square, several CCN members managed to insert an impromptu rendition of the Internationale ahead of the official singing of this anthem the following day!
Below are some photos of CCN choirs in singing action over the weekend.
The CCN’s Annual Meeting was also held during the Street Choirs Festival on Sunday 14th July, and minutes of this meeting are now available on the CCN Annual Meetings page.
Protest against Trump Visit June 2019
Campaign Choirs joined forces on Tuesday 4th June in London to protest at the state visit of Donald Trump. The march, from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square, was organised by the Stop The War Coalition and involved approximately 75,000 people. The Guardian recorded some interviews with protestors which you can view here.
Singers from Strawberry Thieves, Raised Voices, Red and Green and other choirs were involved and a special song sheet was produced for the occasion (see below).
National Demonstration for Palestine May 2019
Several Campaign Choirs were involved in the National Demonstration for Palestine on Saturday 11th May both in London and elsewhere as the images below demonstrate.
North-west choirs also protested at the BBC studios in Salford – see video of Open Voice, Manchester Community, Calder Valley and Bolton Clarion choirs. For the London event, marching from Portland Place to Whitehall, Strawberry Thieves put together a songsheet (see below).
Singing For Our Lives publication
The book Singing For Our Lives is now available. Written by the Campaign Choirs Writing Collective and launched at the 2018 Street Choirs Festival in Brighton, it documents and analyses the various political, societal and personal influences on the development of the street choirs movement over the last 40 years or more. Read a review of the book by Peace News here. And why not order your own copy from the publisher by clicking on the cover left!